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Five Fast Facts About Traveler’s Diarrhea

Traveler’s diarrhea is the most common illness experienced by people who travel from resource-rich to limited-resource areas of the world, affecting between 40-60% of people who travel those areas. Here are five fast facts about this common travel-related condition.

1) Traveler’s Diarrhea Has Several Causes.

Traveler’s diarrhea is a term that’s used to describe a digestive disorder experienced by patients who are visiting a different region of the world than the region they live in. It can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or by eating foods that are unfamiliar to your body.

2) Traveler’s Diarrhea Is More Common in Certain Parts of the World.

While patients can develop traveler’s diarrhea anytime they’re in an unfamiliar part of the world, people traveling to Asia, Mexico, Central America, South America, Africa and the Middle East are much more likely to be affected.

3) Patients Can Take Several Steps to Avoid Getting Traveler’s Diarrhea.

When you’re traveling, there are several steps you can take to try to avoid getting diarrhea. Avoid ice, since it can be made with contaminated water. Only drink beverages from sealed containers. Only eat food that’s been cooked at the appropriate temperature. Eat only fruits and vegetables that you can peel and after you’ve washed them with clean water! And remember to wash your hands frequently.

4) It’s Important to Know the "Red Flags."

While many cases of traveler’s diarrhea resolve without causing any significant complications, patients should know the “red flags” to look for. Patients with symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea may have blood in their stools, a temperature above 102 F, abdominal pain, symptoms more than 48 hours or symptoms of dehydration and should seek immediate medical attention.

5) It’s Important to Travel Prepared.

Since international medical treatment can be difficult to find (and, in some cases, expensive), it’s a good idea to be prepared when you travel. You can take over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medicine with you, and you can also get an antibiotic prescription from your health care provider to take in case you develop symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea while you’re abroad.

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